I set this to 2022 since there is a historical nature to this issue. I cannot seem to find any specific articles that seem reasonable. The problem is with using an external monitor with the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019). A few months ago I switched from an old Apple display to a newer (but not super new) LG 4k monitor -- the one they sold in the Apple store several years ago. I had zero issues with kernel_task before, and starting having the issue with the new monitor. I was in-between housing for a few months before starting to use the new monitor and working only with the laptop with no external monitor and did not have the issue. Unplugging the monitor now also resolves the issue.
- Temperatures do not necessarily reach high levels when the issue is occurring. Running Macs Fan Control, I see that the temps rarely go above 70C -- in fact they hover around the same temp generally speaking as when not having the issue. I have seen the temperature go high on occasion, but this was also connected with the separate ManagedClient process (which also runs away on occasion for no apparent reason). There isn't really much a reason for kernel_task to start throttling, unless the temperature sensors are not working properly or something.
- Zoom app is the deathstrike. Running Zoom with video on will cause the issue very quickly. A Zoom session with outgoing video and one or more incoming videos is a killer. Turning off outbound video and asking participants to turn off theirs helps.
- Similarly, running video apps in the browser seem to cause the issue as well.
Red herrings: There is an enormous body of proposed/supposed fixes for this issue. Here are ones that did not work for me.
- Reset SMC or NVRAM. On the surface this seems to work. Yay! Unfortunately, when having the issue, often times restarting the machine seems to help. Resetting SMC or NVRAM involves restarting the machine one or more times.
- Connecting the charging of the Mac to the right side. There are many references to plugging in the computer on the right side instead of the left. If this is to alleviate high temperature issues, this would sort of make sense based on the argument that this is causing severe overheating. IMO this is kind of a separate Mac issue. If it works for you, that is great. It isn't my issue. It also kind of sucks from a desk setup perspective if it means that you end up having to put your monitor on the other side of the computer. Mine is connected always on the right side so this did not help me.
- Cleaning out dust and applying thermal paste. This could be a resolution also to high temperature issues. If you are inclined to crack your machine open to do this, have at it. I am sure there is some dust in my machine, but as I mentioned above, this is not so much a temperature issue that I can tell. Also, if you need to apply more thermal paste after less than 2 years of use, there are other issues to discuss.
- Running hardware check in recovery mode. Did this. Machine is reported to be perfectly healthy.
- Running Macs Fan Control. Again, your mileage may vary. For me, it does help a little bit, but does not prevent the issue from occurring. It is sort of like urinating on a bonfire -- it does do something, but ultimately isn't powerful enough a solution.
Semi-practical solutions: Let's get back to the 2 things that seem to be "factual"(?). The external monitor seems to be the culprit, insofar as things that the user can do to cause the issue to occur, and things that drive the monitor harder also seem to aggravate the issue. How can we address these?
- Zoom settings for emergency fixes (patch, not solution). See https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/4409500570381-Stopping-all-incoming-video-in-a-meeting-or-webinar. This allows you to turn off incoming video should you need to in a pinch. This coupled with turning off your own outbound video can help quite a bit.
- I have also seen references to turning off hardware acceleration on chrome and other browsers for video playback. I'm not really sure if this does anything to be honest, but I can't say for sure that it does nothing. It is, however, video display and hardware related, so it sounds maybe reasonable(?).
- Changing the resolution used on the external display. I can say for certain that this has worked, at least to the point of making my machine usable. In order to do this, you must go to System Preferences, Displays. Click Display Settings, and while holding down Option, click "Scaled" under Resolution. Then click the "Show all resolutions" checkbox. Find the current resolution your monitor is set to, and choose the same one that says "(low resolution)" to the right of the dimensions. First of all, this sucks, admittedly. It makes your monitor slightly blurry by comparison to what you were running it at. The upside I've found, however, is that I can even join Zoom sessions with multiple people on video without my computer coming to a complete crawl. Since changing this setting I have had the kernel_task issue maybe once or twice in 2 or 3 days and it subsides fairly quickly on its own. Before I was having the issue at least once an hour and had to restart my computer many times a day.
So, my question is -- has anyone recently found a better solution than Semi-practical solution #3 (i.e. in 2022)? I am in the middle of a project at work, and my work somehow determined that the motherboard needs to be replaced, which is impossible for me to accommodate due to time constraints at the moment. Has anyone received any word from Apple indicating that this is a known software or hardware issue that they have a fix in the works for? In all the discussions.apple.com posts I have seen, the Apple rep restates the OP's issue as if it is a completely unknown issue.